Pituitary Disorders (Pediatric)

What are pituitary disorders?

The pituitary gland is located in the brain and is known as the master gland because it produces hormones essential for daily functioning. These hormones stimulate the adrenal gland, the thyroid gland, the ovaries, and the testes.

In neonatal hypopituitarism (NH) an infant's pituitary gland fails to develop properly.

Later in childhood, different types of tumors that may form in the pituitary gland, limiting its ability to function.

What are the symptoms of pituitary disorders?

These infants with NH generally develop yellow skin or eyes (jaundice) and low blood sugar, and suffer from poor growth or lethargy.

Children and adolescents with pituitary tumors may suffer from poor growth, early or late puberty, over- or under-active thyroid or problems with their adrenal glands. In addition, they may experience excessive or decreased urination. Girls may discharge milk from the breasts without being pregnant.

How are pituitary disorders diagnosed?

Diagnosis includes a comprehensive medical history and physical examination. Blood tests, and an MRI of the brain may also be order, as well as a consultation with a neurosurgeon.

How are pituitary disorders treated?

Infants with NH can be treated with replacement pituitary hormones, allowing them to live a normal life.

Children and adolescents with pituitary tumors may be treated with microsurgery, radiation therapy, conventional surgery, drugs, or a combination of these approaches. Surgery is recommended for rapidly growing tumors that threaten vision. The treatment for other pituitary tumors will depend upon the type and size of the tumor.